Brother of Jagtar Singh says Modi-May ‘meeting has left me with more questions than answers, and my brother’s condition unchanged.’
The brother of Jagtar Singh Johal has expressed his frustration over the lack of transparency in reports of bilateral discussions of the detained Briton.
Gurpreet Singh, a lead of the #FreeJaggiNow campaign and brother of Jagtar Singh Johal, spoke to the Sikh Press Association about his frustration about the lack of clarity surrounding dialogue between UK Prime Minister Theresa May and her Indian counterpart Narendra Modi, who is currently visiting England. Jagtar Singh has been detained by Indian authorities for over 160 days without any charge.
The case of Jagtar Singh was raised in a meeting between British Prime Minister Theresa May and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Wednesday morning. Following the meeting a Downing Street spokesperson said:
‘The prime minister raised Mr Johal’s case with Prime Minister Modi this morning and the government will continue to make representations on his behalf until our concerns are addressed. Our High Commission staff in India have visited Mr Johal 10 times since his detention, most recently on 22 March, and the Foreign Office are in regular contact with his family.’
However, there was no reference to Jagtar Singh in a written parliamentary answer given by the Prime Minister to a question asking specifically about him. On Thursday, Jo Swinson, Liberal Democrat Spokesperson for Foreign Affairs, asked whether
the Prime Minister ‘plans to discuss the case of Jagtar Singh Johal during her bilateral meeting with Narendra Modi, at the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting?’
In her reply, the Prime Minister referred Swinson to the Downing Street press release of the previous day’s bilateral meeting. This press release did not include any reference to Jagtar Singh, or to human rights violations in India. More than half of it was devoted to business, trade and investment between the two countries.
Gurpreet Singh, echoing the sentiments of #FreeJaggiNow campaigners, said, ‘The Downing Street spokesperson said the two leaders discussed my brother. But what was said? We have reason to believe he has been tortured; he has been denied private consular access and an independent medical examination. He has been presented in front of a judge more than 30 times and yet has still not been charged. How many of these concerns did Theresa May raise with Narendra Modi? I want to know.’
Referring to the Prime Minister’s parliamentary reply, he added, ‘Why is the Prime Minister reluctant to explicitly tell Parliament that she raised my brother’s case with the Indian Prime Minister? Does she fear parliamentary scrutiny? This meeting has left me with more questions than answers, and my brother’s condition unchanged.’